Social Bookmarking Digg SEO Case Study

Digg has been performing oddly and quite different than what I expect in Google and we think we have the beginning of why

Up until this last month Digg has produced pretty predictable results in Google search. 50 Diggs and you are in Google websearch for both the Digg post and your blog post. 100 Diggs and you usually get to the top of Google niche keyword results. Build a few organic links and you stay there. Pretty simple.

Lately the Digg post has not been showing up in Google results hardly at all. Not even in Blogsearch. Nada, a total no show. After beating my head on my computer for the last four weeks I think I have the solution. I have come to believe that Google is evaluating Digg posts differently than other social bookmarking sites. Differently maybe a little strong and there are so many variables it is hard to nail down exactally, but something has changed. It could also be that Google was tweaking it’s algo with the PageRank update this past two weeks. It is impossible to tell.

Either way I have some Digg SEO tweaks that definitely produce better results.

Digg SEO case study #1

Chris Shouse, the owner of the parent blog post in this case study owns a copy of my Wickedly Evil Social Marketing ebook and followed everything I advise, step by step.

Chris Shouse handled this Digg submission, totally independent of any input from me. I have written the case study here and had no advisory or helping hand. If fact I did not even know this had occurred until Chris Shouse called me to report that she was immediately ranked top ten under the term she had selected in Google.

On October 2nd, she had someone else submit the item to Digg. As I have said many times, if possible get someone else to submit your own blog posts to social bookmarking. The Digg item was then shouted to 48 mutual friends by the submitter.

This would be the first time the submitter has Dugg an item from this subdomain so there is no history of past submissions for Google to find.

The keyword phrase targeted was “baggage theft” and was used properly both in the title of the blog post and the submission to Digg. However, the phrase was not used in the Digg description. I believe it would have done better if it had. You can ease this mistake by writing a synopsis opening paragraph in your blog post at the very top and if it is well written many times it will get used as the description in a social bookmarking post.

Baggage theft is a lightly searched / niche term that only returns about 50 searches a year in the Google keyword tool. However if your site is about travel tips, this is a great niche keyword.

Be sure to search your keyword terms for traffic in the Google AdWords tool before you publish the blog post. It is up to you whether you want to target a heavily searched term of a niche term. Obviously niche terms are more easily dominated with social bookmarking.

The Digg post pulled 69 Diggs and got 8 comments and not just comments, comments that were voted positively. I have come to believe that a comment is as powerful as a Digg at times.

Baggage handling theft

The parent blog post got 6 comments and the blog theme uses the title of the blog post repeating the title tag. Looks like a good strategy to me.

Baggage handling theft

I nofollowed these links to the Digg post and the blog in an effort not to alter Google results.

The google results page is dominated by heavy hitters. It is important to note the PageRank is taken from my toolbar and the links are both internal and external as reported by Yahoo.

#1 foxnews.com, post is PR2, 8 links.

#2 http://www.smartertravel.com/ post is PR2, 7 links.

#3 http://www.ajc.com/ post is PR4, 32 links.

#4 http://blogs.wsj.com/ post is PR3, 55 links.

#5 http://www.cbsnews.com/ post is PR3, 71 links.

#6 http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/ post is PR0, 0 links.

#7 http://blog.jonudell.net/ post is PR4, 104 links.

#8 http://query.nytimes.com/ post is PR3, 0 links. (may have been due to the dynamic URL)

#9 http://www.onenewsnow.com/ post is PR greyed out, 0 links.

#10 http://www.realtown.com/chrisshouse/blog/ PR greyed out, 0 links. (this may be due to the newness of the post)

Our case study blog post is this last one, #10.

Note that the sites on page two of this search term in Google mostly had PR in the toolbar and incoming links.

Ok, we have established that the blog post got here through the Digg post. Let’s take that as true. I have returned the same results 100′s of times and while neither Google or Yahoo returns Digg posts as a link in a link: search, we know that social bookmarking votes are seen as a positive link indicator in Google.

What happened here

The Digg post is at #9 and the blog post is at #8 two days after it was submitted.

chris-shouse-10-4-2008.jpg

Today the Digg post is gone, which is how it usually works and the blog post is now at #10. It will probably slip if some organic links are not created. Chris could even write another blog post and link back to the first. That would even bolster it a bit.

If the Digg post is continuing to appear and the blog post is slipping down Google results you have done something wrong. Google is not passing on relevance to your blog post and holding it at the Digg post. We have seen this may times in the last month. We are not going to cover this here because it is too lengthy and not what this case study is about.

chris-shouse-10-08-2008.jpg

Chris’s post is the last one on page one at #10. Not bad for only 69 Diggs and what you can expect if you handle your Digg posts the way I advise as Chris did. You are not out to spam Digg for a few worthless links. You are there to bring interesting information and news to others of like interests. If you do not do that then you are just spamming Digg.

Remember that you need 50 to 100 Diggs to be seen as relevant to Google.

The Bottom line

So for a few minutes work and some strategic alliances built over time you can get immediate results in niche terms that convert to sales in Google. Most bloggers complain that social bookmarking traffic does not convert to sales.

What DOES convert is the keywords that you target in Google and the conversions come from motivated buyers searching for what you sell in Google. Don’t focus on the drill (Digg), focus on the hole (Google). Digg is a tool and Google is where it drills the hole. It is white hat and not a spam technique in Google’s eyes. If the article only has the intent of getting Diggs and appearing highly in Google, then it is spam. You social bookmarking articles must be of quality and able to stand alone.

In the beginning I mentioned that Digg has not been performing the way we expect but this one did exactly what we have seen in Google for the last year.

However there is one factor that we are generating some far deeper reports on and bringing some SEO professionals in for comment. We have found in this Digg post the reasons that many Digg submissions have been performing poorly. Google, I believe is playing a little game with Digg since it is so highly gamed and spammed. You just need to adjust your Digg submissions slightly.

I complete this case study as part of my new social marketing eBook, version 3.0 of Wickedly Evil Social Marketing Tactics. Available now. Your comments and questions are VERY welcome below just by clicking the comments link on the lower right.

7 Comments

  1. Posted October 8, 2008 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Here are some interesting stats about some of the people who dugg that story (sorry if this doesn’t format well, if you were our customer you’d have a pretty table! Just cut and paste to a spreadsheet.):

    User,Rank,PR
    AmyVernon,195,5
    IvanB,26,5
    Lyndoman,347,4
    BrendaE,n/a,4
    jontalisman,540,4
    guhpol,n/a,3
    c22002,n/a,2
    BeShirtHappy,n/a,1

    The rank is the current rank of the Digger according to SocialBlade. PR is from the Google toolbar.

    Notice that you don’t have to be a “Top Digger” to have a good PR score for your profile. I suspect these 8 Diggs plus the comments are the reason the story did well in the SERP, and while related it’s not caused by the total number of Diggs. In other words, Diggs/Comments that generate links back from strong profiles are more important than total number of Diggs on a story for how it’s going to perform.

    Which indicates to me that if you had 30 strong profiles that never bothered with trying to get their submissions popular you could still get a medium difficulty keyword into the first page of the SERPs without much difficulty.

  2. Posted October 8, 2008 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    It would be interesting to see how well Realtown.com holds up with this ranking over time – like 30 days or longer. I am all for using Digg to help boost rankings, but based on the data above, it would not surprise me if the site’s position did not hold up either.

    If this were not a test, I would certainly recommend getting some text links to the page — it most certainly would help.

    Chris – read your last book and looking forward to the newest version. Very good material – especially on the Google reader and other Google apps.

  3. Posted October 8, 2008 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Arnie,

    Good points and I have always said that organic, green, tried and true should not be ignored. Social media is one more channel and it is not going to be dropped by Google, it is just going to get cleaned up.

    There is an easy way to keep that link in the top ten. It is in the book and I know you have a copy so take a look. In fact you may want to check out this write up about another site that we took to the top of results with 100 Diggs and it stayed there. And it has nothing to do with organic links.

    Take a look: How to get more Diggs This test was performed by me, Chris Lang. So it is not a true test, I put everything I could into it and really anyone that has bought my book could do this.

    The site took it’s place under “how to get more diggs” from a Digg submission that pulled about 119 Diggs in the first few days. If fact in the write up above it knocked my own posts and MSaleem’s for ProNetAdvertising out of top positions. At that time it only had the Diggs going for it and it held #1 for over a month just on the Diggs alone.

    Now the blog post has over 32 links, only two of them are organic. In fact if you look closely there are only a few domains in the list. All the others are from social media. With only two organic links and one of them was from this site I took that newbie blog post and kicked everybody’s butt with it including my own. I did this to prove a point and when I did I started selling books. Before that, I could not give the thing away. Marketing lesson, proof sells.

    And Arnie, here is the really interesting point. The term “how to get more Diggs” was not even used in the blog post. Let’s see if anyone can figure out how I got around that one.

  4. Posted October 8, 2008 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Chris,

    Your posts are always so “complete”. You have examples, screenshots, even videos. I always come here for my Digg Fix, especially now that some Digg changes are going on and I’m in limbo.

    Jorge Olson

  5. Posted October 9, 2008 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Chris,
    Re: The term “how to get more Diggs” was not even used in the blog post. Let’s see if anyone can figure out how I got around that one.

    You are just proving the power of links. There are many famous examples out there of the worst optimized pages performing well in the SERPs based soley on the quality of links point to that page.

    As a link builder, I love to see it :-)
    Arnie

  6. Posted February 13, 2009 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    hiii nice to meet you thanks

  7. Tony
    Posted August 27, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Got a few newbie ques’s on this article:

    “niche term that only returns about 50 searches a year in the Google keyword tool. However if your site is about travel tips, this is a great niche keyword.”

    How is only 50 searches a month a good term to target?

    “the blog theme uses the title of the blog post repeating the title tag.”

    ok what’s the blog theme, the theme of the whole blog or is he talking about the post?

    “I nofollowed these links to the Digg post and the blog in an effort not to alter Google results.”

    how do you nofollow a link to a post?

    how did you get the yahoo report on the links?

    “In fact in the write up above it knocked my own posts and MSaleem’s for ProNetAdvertising out of top positions.”

    what do you mean by a write up?

    Please define organic link.
    Do you mean a hard link from a website/blog as opposed to a “bookmarked” link that may disappear?

    thx- Tony